Running old games in Virtualbox and thoughts on Windows ‘Security’ versus Linux.

Posted: October 1, 2012. At: 2:01 PM. This was 5 years ago. Post ID: 4655

The reliability of the Windows operating system; typical BSOD.
The reliability of the Windows operating system; typical BSOD.

The ATI Radeon graphics card I have is working rather well when I have the drivers installed; but the open-source drivers leave a lot to be desired. I will probably be using the Fedora 17 Linux distribution in the future; I just need to chroot into the Fedora installation and install the fglrx proprietary drivers. For some reason the screen is all garbled and unusable without those drivers when using a very recent kernel version; still that is easy to fix and then I can enjoy a fast and usable Linux desktop environment. Steve Ballmer of Microsoft has stated that the people who use the many Linux distributions on their desktop are stealing due to the fact they are using the hardware without a copy of Microsoft Windows installed. This is a bit rich coming from Ballmer, surely Microsoft still make enough money from Sales of Windows 7 that they are not scared by Linux? Or are they. The impending, looming release of Windows 8 with the Metro desktop will be a gamble on the part of Microsoft. But why could they not leave the interface alone? Linux users are spoilt for choice in terms of desktop environments. You can even mix and match various parts of the Linux desktop to better suit how you work on your computer; for example using the Metacity window manager with KDE. That gives you more freedom of choice; something that Windows is missing now.

If you wish to try out Linux on a Windows desktop then install it in Virtualbox and then install the guest additions. That enables the guest operating system access to the full desktop resolution of the host operating system and access to shared folders; meaning that you can share files between the guest and host. Something like Vmware can virtualise an operating system; but Virtualbox works well enough for me to use when I want to try something out. Running an older version of Linux in Virtualbox can be hard; the guest additions might not work if the Linux distribution uses a 2.4 kernel for example. Another emulated environment is Dosbox; this allows you to run DOS in a window and play old games on a modern 64 bit machine. I use this to play Blood. Wolfenstein 3D also works very well in Dosbox as well as Duke Nukem 2. The plot of Duke Nukem 2 is rather like the plot of Independence Day; with huge V styled spaceships hovering over cities. You got onto a ship and you fought the bad guys on their turf. This tutorial I found here: http://vogons.zetafleet.com/viewtopic.php?t=9405 is an in-depth tutorial on running the crusty old Windows 3.11 in Dosbox. That would be an interesting exercise to be sure. Here is a tutorial on running the venerable Windows 3.11 in Virtualbox: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how-tos/happy_birthday_windows_how-_install_windows_31_virtual_pc. I guess you could install Shareware Doom and have a gaming VM?

But Linux is way ahead of ancient operating systems like the old Windows 3.11 and the Windows Xploit that was released to great fanfare after Windows `98. But Windows XP had its fair share of exploits; as well as other versions of Windows. Here is an exploit database for the Windows operating system with quite an exhaustive listing from 2001 to 2012; 214 pages worth! If you are looking for some exploits that could still be unpatched; this is the place to start looking. Many computers in 2012 are still running Windows XP with Internet Explorer 8.0 and with only Service Pack 1 if that. They are ripe to be exploited with the right malware packages. Linux has some security holes too; but they do not go unpatched for decades like some Windows security holes. Kernel.org was also cracked into recently; but due to the open-source nature of the Kernel project; the security of the kernel can be guaranteed. There is a new code signing bypass available in the Windows kernel; this allows granting higher privileges to an executable and installing unsigned drivers. That is a great example of security right there. On the Linux side there is a nice PDF file here: http://tldp.org/REF/ls_quickref/QuickRefCard.pdf This is a nice guide to securing your Linux system and making sure no one steals your files or compromises your Linux installation. Once your Linux system has been compromised; you have no way of knowing what was changed as the commands you are using to look could have been modified.

NSA Selinux blocking a possibly malicious script.
NSA Selinux blocking a possibly malicious script.

But if you are careful on the Internet and make sure that you always update your security patches then you should have no problems. A default installation of Ubuntu or Fedora will be more reliable than the crusty old unpatched Windows XP machines that my local library uses to this day in anno 2012. Ubuntu or Linux Mint could perform all of the tasks the machines are used for. Browsing the Internet; typing documents and watching Youtube videos can all be done on a Linux Mint 13 installation and it would have a good deal more security than the Windows XP operating system. It is not called Windows Xploit for a joke; it really is that insecure and unstable. Using Windows XP in 2012 is just asking for trouble. Fedora Core Linux has the NSA Selinux software which prevents malicious software from executing on a Linux system before it can gain control. That is one way to have a secure Linux system. The NSA Selinux architecture has been ported to the TrustedBSD platform as SEBSD; this provides the same access controls and security benefits as the Linux Selinux system. Another secure operating system is the OpenBSD UNIX operating system. This has only experienced two remote security holes in all of the time it has been deployed. That is a good argument for installing this operating system if you need a secure OS for your network connected personal computer or server.

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